Yes, it is safe to continue breastfeeding during this coronavirus pandemic. In fact, breast milk contributes to your child’s developing immune system, so this is something positive for your family.
In the same way that everyone should take precautions, do practice social distancing with others. For the time being, that means no more high fives with your friends or kissing babies on the face and hands. Wash your hands often, avoid touching your face or your baby’s face.
If you are sick, you can continue to breastfeed. You should pump your breast milk and have someone else feed it to your baby.
• Wash your hands before pumping.
• Sterilize all the parts of the pump and the bottles.
• Let them air dry. Put them in a sealed container once they’re dry.
Whoever is feeding the baby should wash their hands: before preparing the bottle, before and after feeding. That goes for families using formula, too.
In addition, you should take these precautions if you are using formula.
• Boil water and pour that over the powdered formula. That is how to sterilize the powder. The problem is not the water. It’s the powder that you have to consider.
• Keep a dedicated clean surface for the formula preparation area.
• Have a one-use-only scoop and keep it clean and separate. Do not put the scoop on the counter and then back in the can, it will just grow more bacteria in there.
To be clear, those are precautions you should take regardless of the coronavirus. Here are guidelines from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and WHO (World Health Organization). These are clear instructions on how to prepare powdered infant formula.
Pasteurized Donor Human Milk is sometimes an option. However, the supply is limited at this time so the priority is preterm babies, very sick and vulnerable infants. The Milk Banks are, as always, diligent about screening and sanitation.
Staying together at home will reduce contact with others and that will help us all be a step ahead. Here’s a good idea.
• Get outside and enjoy the sun, take a walk or ride a bike.
• When you come back, wash everyone’s hands first thing when you go back in the house.
That way, you’ll be clean on your way in.
Here are resources for information from the Maine State Breastfeeding Coalition.